Before Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, turned the brewing industry on its head with oddball ingredients and methods, he wanted to be a creative writer.
“I learned that I wasn’t good enough to ever write the great American novel,” he says. “But I knew I could apply that storytelling to writing creative recipes.”
Since he opened Dogfish in Milton, Delaware, in 1995, he’s been on a mission to eschew pedestrian tastes in favor of “off-center” ales—genre-defying stuff like Raison D’Etre, brewed with beet sugar and raisins; Theobroma, featuring Aztec cocoa powder and annatto; and Pangaea, which contains ingredients gathered from all seven continents.
These ludicrously creative new creations keep on coming, while flagship beers such as 60 Minute IPA have become foundational standard-bearers of the American craft-beer movement.
Here, Calagione takes us from his family basement, where it all began, to New York City, Delaware, Italy, and beyond.
This interview has been condensed and edited.Click to start the list